The endless font of bullshit coming from folks trying to oppose Initiative 502, a measure on the fall ballot to tax and regulate marijuana in Washington State, deserves a quick lashing. Their latest tantrum is a response to I-502 sponsor Roger Roffman, a doctor and former UW professor, who acknowledges that marijuana can be harmful if abused. Remember, Roffman is trying to legalize marijuana, and he explained in a speech recently that, contrary to claims that marijuana is completely harmless, marijuana "is injurious to young people and their families. There are people who are victims of marijuana. To hear an advocate say it's close to harmless is troubling." Legalizing pot, he points out, lets society deal better with its harms as a public health problem.
"Yes, one of the main proponents of the initiative said this," says a breathless, scandalized article in the pot blog Toke of the Town. Surely you can't sincerely want to legalize pot and say it has, uh, downsides like all other drugs. A commenter jumped in to explain that "marijuana/cannabis is not a drug. Its botanically an herb and go check your kitchen for other herbs you may or may not use on a daily basis."
This isn't just one idiot commenter, either. These people—and their message—are all over. A few of them went bananas on Facebook (sorry, yes, I'm referring to Facebook) over the weekend to criticize Roffman and make the case that pot isn't a drug at all. "Everyone knows alcohol is a drug, marijuana is a plant Dom," one of them wrote to me this weekend. Hold on: THC, which gets me so high I can barely speak, isn't a drug? "nope, are you nuts?" was the reply.
Look, I know I'm beating a crippled baby with a mace, here, but I'm sharing it because this is actually part of the thinking behind those self-proclaimed cannabis activists opposing I-502. Weirdly, they insist pot is still medicine—just not a drug. And because it isn't a drug, ostensibly, it requires no regulation, no DUI penalties, no limits on manufacturing. And heaven forbid, you can't admit that some people have a problem with marijuana abuse. You can't say anyone has ever driven too high ("i get high and drive all the time. but i dont drink and drive," one of them wrote). And you can't say someone has ever fucked up in school or at work because they were stoned. And any mention of pot's harms—because it's a drug—is enough to send them into a collective tizzy fit. It's like anarchy meets gluttony with a dash of Ron Paul.